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U.S. asks judge to approve seizure of ‘Pharma Bro’ assets

Martin Shkreli is interviewed by Maria Bartiromo during her “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo” program Aug. 15, 2017 on the Fox Business Network in New York. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)
Martin Shkreli is interviewed by Maria Bartiromo during her “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo” program Aug. 15, 2017 on the Fox Business Network in New York. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)
By Tom Hays Associated Press

NEW YORK – “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli appeared in court Friday for the first time since a judge locked him up for his online antics, and the brash former pharmaceutical CEO had a new look since his bail was revoked in September: a scruffy beard that made his appearance less boyish.

He also was wearing a loose-fitting jail uniform instead of street clothes as he listened to the government argue that he’s on the hook for more than $7 million for his securities fraud conviction.

“Under the circumstances, I think he’s doing remarkably well,” his attorney, Ben Brafman, told reporters when asked about his client’s stint in a fortress-like federal jail in Brooklyn.

Shkreli was convicted on charges he cheated investors in two failed hedge funds.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto didn’t immediately rule on the government’s demand that Shkreli should have to forfeit $7.3 million in assets, including a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” album that he has boasted he bought for $2 million. Prosecutors also want him to give up $5 million in cash in a brokerage account, his interest in a pharmaceutical company and other valuables including a Picasso painting.

The defense has argued that Shkreli owes nothing, because the hedge fund investors actually ended up making a profit off drug company stock he gave them. It also says that unlike most securities fraud cases, Shkreli himself never made anything off the scheme.

“This case was never about money as far as Mr. Shkreli is concerned,” the defense said in court papers. The papers added: “Simply put, Mr. Shkreli was not indicted because he stole anyone’s money.”

Shkreli, 34, is perhaps best known for boosting the price of a life-saving drug and for trolling his critics on social media, where he became known as “Pharma Bro.”

Shkreli was out on bail during his trial last year. But the judge decided to jail him for violating his bail conditions because of a social media posting offering a $5,000 bounty to anyone who could get a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair while she was on a book tour.

Shkreli’s sentencing is set for March 9.

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